Hispano Suiza Carmen, Spain’s pre-war equivalent to Bentley, has been recreated to construct the world’s most premium electric hypercar. The Hispano Suiza Carmen, the aristocratic boutique brand’s first car in 74 years, has over 1,000 horsepower and looks like an Art Deco bat. GQ traveled to Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya to test drive the £1.5 million vehicles.
The new automobile was designed by Barcelona-based QEV Technologies, but business president Miguel Suqué Mateu is the great-grandson of co-founder Damián Mateu, so there is a legitimate family tie to Hispano Suiza’s original version.
The Hispano Suiza Carmen is not backed by a major carmaker or a technological alliance, yet it appears to be extremely well engineered up close. Its monocoque and bodywork, as well as the subframes on which the aluminum control-arm suspension at each corner is mounted, are all made of carbon fiber. The rear axle is powered by an 80-kWh, 700-volt battery pack that feeds electrons to four AC motors.
Exterior of Hispano Suiza Carmen
The Mullin Automotive Museum inspired the design in Oxnard, California, which houses the only surviving Hispano-Suiza H6C Dubonnet Xenia. The back end of both ancient and current cars is lengthy and strongly fared. The result is both distinctive and contentious, according to our straw polling. Other hyper-EVs like the Pininfarina Battista and Rimac Nevera have more visual heft and presence than the Hispano Suiza Carmen. Although there are large radiators behind it to cool the motors and battery pack, the size and prominence of the front grille appear out of place for an EV. The combination of bronze accents and lacquered carbon fiber on the prototype Boulogne reminded us of a high-end purse. Buyers have the option of choosing any color they like.
(Drag-reducing rear-wheel coverings, similar to those seen on the Xenia, will be offered on the normal Carmen, but not on the Boulogne.) While EVs are frequently chastised for having false grilles, the Carmen actually has radiators behind its large front aperture to keep the motors and battery cool.
Interior of Hispano Suiza Carmen
The carbon weave is black with gold highlights and is resin-colored. A beautiful retro-modern blend of leather and Alcantara, as well as digital panels, can be found beneath the electrically controlled scissor doors.
Power-operated butterfly doors provide access to the interior. It’s a bit of a scramble to get through these because they don’t open very wide. However, once in place, the interior seems relatively big, and the prototype’s bronze-heavy finish, although not to everyone’s taste, is finished to an exceptionally high degree. A triangular push-button gear selector, with Park in the center and Drive, Neutral, and Reverse all placed at 120deg angles, is an idiosyncratic feature. The Carmen is marketed as a sumptuous grand tourer, and the Boulogne, which I drove in nearly-completed shape, is marketed as a more track-ready version.
Specs, Features, and Performance of Hispano Suiza Carmen
It’s an alien-looking 1,700kg grand tourer that prioritizes design, comfort, and a sense of occasion over outright performance. In terms of the latter, though, it is in no way deficient. It takes just 2.6 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, with a top speed of 180 mph. It also handles well, with plenty of grips and predictable handling.
There are three driving modes to choose from, ranging from Eco to Sport. In economy mode, a Tesla Model 3 will out drag you, but give it some hammer time and you’ll be eating Lamborghinis for breakfast.
The weight distribution is similar to that of a Porsche 911, with the majority of the weight concentrated in the back. The ultra-low-profile Pirellis we’re riding on are entirely road legal, and the AP Racing carbon-ceramic brakes stop the machine on a dime.
Battery of Hispano Suiza Carmen
Due to the battery’s size and location, 60% of the Hispano Suiza Carmen car’s static weight is distributed across the rear wheels. This was particularly apparent in the circuit’s tighter corners, where the front end required to be shepherded to apexes, and where optimistically early power delivery resulted in understeer. However, this could be mitigated by reducing power, and weight transfer proved to be a simple way to change the cornering attitude.
A large 80kWh T-shaped battery sits behind the passenger compartment and in a central tunnel between the seats, providing power. The 700-cell, 700V lithium-ion pack was created to support the car’s max power rating by allowing for extremely high discharge rates. It also supports DC fast-charging at speeds up to 80kW, allowing it to be recharged from 30% to 80% in under 30 minutes.
Under the WLTP test protocol, Hispano Suiza Carmen claims to be aiming for a 250-mile range. Because the battery weighs 800kg, Carmen’s kerb weight of 1690kg appears to be quite impressive.
Pricing of Hispano Suiza Carmen
From the first sketch until homologation, it only took two years. In addition to the prototype, Nineteen 1,005bhp Carmens will be built at a cost of £1,280,00 apiece, while a racier Carmen Boulogne variant will be made at a cost of £1.4 million and with 1,099bhp. Those are both pre-tax costs. The first Boulogne has been dispatched to Miami for Michael J Fuchs, a US media mogul who owns almost 270 cars, including 25 Ferraris.
Even if Hispano Suiza sells the entire planned run of cars, the Hispano Suiza Carmen will always have exclusivity on its side.
This first impression implies that the finished car won’t be in the same performance league as the Evija or the Rimac Nevera, but it will have a design and luxury focus that will set it apart from both of those more expensive options.
However, driving the Boulogne on a racetrack didn’t feel particularly comfortable. They expect the near-silent powertrain and superb refinement will do significantly better on real roads.